Pope says prison inmates must be treated with dignity and charity

.- This morning, on receiving officials of the Department of Prison Administration, the inspector general of chaplains and a number of female police officers assigned to women's prisons, Pope John Paul II spoke of the need to treat prison inmates with understanding and to “wed firmness with attention to the individual.”

"I have learned with delight," he told the new agents, "that during the course you demonstrated a laudable commitment, achieving encouraging results. I congratulate you and take this occasion to make a suggestion: Always take care of your spiritual life.”

“In fact,” he continued, “your work calls for a solid human maturity that allows you to wed firmness with attention to the individual. To this end, being women certainly helps you, as you have those qualities proper to women that have such a positive effect on interpersonal relations."

John Paul II noted that "by a happy coincidence today, September 27 is the liturgical memory of St. Vincent de Paul, the great saint of charity. He personally suffered the harshness of prison, and he taught the 'Dames' and then the Daughters of Charity to pay special attention to that category of poor people called 'convicts'. He asked them to show understanding and to demand human treatment for prisoners."

"The primary value of the human person," concluded the Pope, "must be the basis for all civil and professional ethics and of all relative formation. I am therefore happy to place your work under the protection of St. Vincent de Paul."

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